Hidden washrooms at shopping centres; confused cellphones; orca sightings

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Observations from a ferry visit to Vancouver.

I appreciate the layouts of Victoria’s Hillside Centre, Mayfair Shopping Centre and Bay Centre much more after wandering around a couple of malls in Metro Vancouver. At both Aberdeen Centre in Richmond and Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, the public washrooms required lengthy treks along behind-the-scenes hallways that featured multiple turns and the occasional fire door. The places of commerce should obviously have the best mall real estate, but the washroom locations were ridiculously customer-unfriendly. In contrast, Bay Centre’s public washrooms are short distances from main corridors. It’s mostly the same at Hillside and Mayfair. My complaint about the Vancouver malls might stem from unfamiliarity, but I checked the mall maps, and many of the public washrooms are indeed inconveniently located. There must be some business-case logic to this.

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B.C. Ferries’ schedule on the Swartz Bay - Tsawwassen route is impossible to meet if the ferries get full, as they did on Sunday afternoon. There just isn’t enough time built into the published schedule to load and unload so many people and cars. As a result, several afternoon ferries departed 10 to 20 minutes late. But it doesn’t make sense to tune the schedules for the busiest times. The ferries, running with smaller loads, are usually on time, give or take five minutes or so.

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Two orca sightings were announced during my Sunday afternoon trip from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. The first was on the port side, the second on the starboard side. In both instances, there was a great rush of people to the windows and railings, much excitement, and much picture-taking. [Times Colonist story: Transient orca sightings in Salish Sea setting all-time record]

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Our bus driver at Bridgeport station, in an effort to stay on schedule on a very busy Sunday, invited everyone to board through the extra-long bus’s front, middle and rear doors. No ticket validation was required. Around 125 of us packed ourselves in for the journey to Tsawwassen terminal. There was grumbling from some people at the front of the line who lost the opportunity to claim seats first.

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Riding the bus from Swartz Bay terminal back into Victoria, I overheard consternation about cellphone connection troubles. The consensus among passengers helping each other was that you should turn off the cell data function and then turn it back on. Some devices apparently get confused when there is no cell signal, as is the case on parts of the ferry during parts of the journey.

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